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Author Topic: Landscapes and color  (Read 26033 times)
Rob
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« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2003, 05:47:59 PM »
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James, the rules are NO post processing whatsoever...just develop all the prints the same-the same time in the bath, no over or under , no pushing, no dodging, burning..absolutely no processing accept leaving the film in the bath for a set period...all images equally


The argument here is that the film folks are saying digital is 'unreal' because it requires post processing...so I say the film folks cannot do any post processing and we will see how good the images are...

Once Again...images are made, they are not taken
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AWeil
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« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2003, 04:53:53 PM »
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Well, I used to have just my camera - no darkroom, no computer -  only dependency on a commercial lab. At this time, 'TAKING' an image was the only thing I could do - aside from the choice of film material. Even simple things like framing was extremely important to get what I wanted. I envied everyone with a lab, thinking they can do about anything to their pictures - I can't.
Today, I scan my images and use Photoshop.
It felt like an entire new world opening up. Indeed, I do spend more time on my computer than in the field these days. A lot of this time is the steep learning curve. But a good part of this time is spend revisiting 'old' pictures. Some spring to life for the first time and some are surprisingly good. They don't need much work. I must have taken so much care to get it right.
I do catch myself today when 'taking' an image that I think, I can fix it later. That's ok - but with limits. Of course, you can add a waterfall if its nice - but why would you?
Digital technology can help, but the old computer rule of 'garbage in - garbage out' still applies. Only the good pictures warrant the time and effort to work on them. That has not changed from the darkroom days.
A.Weil
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Erik M
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« Reply #22 on: January 17, 2003, 12:38:19 PM »
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So, if I took a nice beach scene, and cloned in a Chincoteague pony into it (and did it just so, so that you couldn't tell they were photographed separately), would this be any better, worse, or even different?

There's nothing wrong with this, provided you let me (the buyer, collector, etc.) know that the pony was never on the beach and that this is a composite. I could then judge weather or not I valued a creation as much as a straight photo. Honesty: it's really the simple solution.
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sergio
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« Reply #23 on: January 17, 2003, 01:37:25 PM »
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I think alterating a photograph really matters if its going to be used as evidence in court.
Alfred Stieglitz was fighting this conception of photography a century ago. Photography is an art form (maybe wont apply if you are shooting news and documentary) and art doesn't obey reality. Who cares if the pony actually was there, as it really COULD have been there.Why ruining the magic of the image by saying its just digital manipulation. Chincoteague pony's, those are famous, right?
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #24 on: January 19, 2003, 05:28:05 AM »
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Fascinating thread. What we are trying to decide is rather philosophical; when does a photo cease to become a "photo" (with all of the documentary baggage associated with that concept) and enter the realm of "art"? For me, unless your photo is going to be used as evidence in court (where ethics demands a high degree of correlation between the image and the state of the universe as seen from the point of view of the camera at the time the shot was taken), then the ultimate objective is the reaction to the image in the mind of the viewer. Moving the camera 3 feet to the left to hide an ugly sign behind a bush when taking a landscape photo is no more or less valid as an image altering technique than cloning it out in Photoshop after the fact. Airbrushing Aunt Suzie's hideous facial wart is no different than having her turn her head slightly to hide it. In all these cases the "reality" of these images could be called into question, because they fail to tell the "whole truth"; they sin by omission, as it were. Neither landscape image would suggest the existence of the sign, and neither portrait image would suggest the existence of the wart. However, no photograph can possibly depict every possible detail of every element of the environment in which it was taken, so this is not an indictment of any of the hypothetical images described.

Much of photography involves choosing what to photograph, and which vantage point and field of view to use. This has more of an effect on the finished image than any other factor, regardless of whether one is using digital or film, and regardless of the means used to process the image. The choice of subject, vantage point, and when to capture the image makes all the difference between a ho-hum snapshot and an Ansel Adams.  My personally preferred approach to removing the sign from the landscape image would be to move the camera; not because it is any more "truthful", (although it is, from a certain point of view) but because moving the camera a few feet is less hassle than trying to get rid of the sign in Photoshop.
I enjoy photographing sunsets. I could create vividly colorful sunset scenes in Photoshop without bothering with my digital camera and all of the other accoutrements of digital photography, but I find manufactured images to be less interesting than ones with a reasonably high degree of correlation to an actual location and event. In pursuit of the goal of creating images of sunsets that have a significant basis in reality (which is a personal preference) I carry around a camera and tripod and devote considerable time and effort to recording images of sunsets that I think are aesthetically pleasing. When people look at my work and ask if the sky really looked like that, I tell them that the brightness, contrast, and color saturation may be adjusted somewhat, but the image depicts with a reasonable degree of accuracy what the camera saw when the image was recorded.
Likewise when taking a portrait, I try to capture the personality of the subject without highlighting their shortcomings, real or imagined. This process involves selecting the environment, clothing and perspective for the shoot, selecting the image from the shoot that that has the most pleasing facial expression, and occasionally airbrushing acres of acne. None of the images may correlate particularly well with what you might see when the subject is asleep and wearing curlers and no makeup, but that is not the point of portrait photography.
In general, I find the task of defining whether an image is "real" or not to be an endless morass of legalistic quibbling. If an image with a gamma adjustment of 1.2 is still "real" what about 3.2? Is B&W photography "real"? By any objective methodology of measurement, it has a lesser degree of correlation to "reality" than color photography, but I have never heard anyone dispute the "reality" of an Ansel Adams landscape print. How far can I turn up color saturation before an image is no loger "real", and who is going to send the color police after me if I exceed the limit?
If someone purchasing a print inquires what techniques were used to create it, don't be dishonest, you can always refuse to answer the question if you think they won't like the answer. Hey it works for magicians, why not photographers? Come to think of it there are a lot of similarities; they are into sleight of hand, we do sleight of eye. Anyway, I've ranted enough for one post, so I'll shut up now.
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swilbilly
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« Reply #25 on: March 02, 2003, 04:02:43 PM »
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I just thought I would chime in on this one. I am an but a novice, however after several years of shooting and two working with scanned images in Photo Shop. I have found that if I start with a poor image no amount editing can really save it. Conversley I have also found that with a great image to start with, anything more that basic color balance and contrast editing only degrade the end result. I guess what I am saying is simpley that a great image is just that and a poor one is poor. I do agree that great images are made. But consider that a great image comes from a great shot with great editing. Thanks -- Swilbilly
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AWeil
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« Reply #26 on: March 10, 2003, 12:06:06 PM »
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I follow this interesting thread for a while now.
Sometimes, I'm not so sure I can follow all the technical aspects. But frankly, I don't mind. For me, technical aspects are secondary.
What makes looking at images (photographs, drawings, paintings even sculpture) so important and always fascinating is the personal view of the person creating it. I don't care about reality. It is just there and open for interpretation - to me the greatest challenge.
Why look at an image of, say the Utah desert and its rock formations, photographed so many times or some semi-wild animal in a winter landscape? Polar Bears are cute, flowers pretty, people - well.... It is only, because I care about people and the way they see the world and their abitlity to use what ever tools they are comfortable with to show me and others how diverse, beautiful, strange and maybe uncomfortable or lovely this same world can get.
Ok, it's immensely valuable for specialists in a certain field (here:photo - any kind) to exchange about what's new and available to better represent those personal impressions. Otherwise, I do not think there is such a thing as reality common to all - and I like that.
To revert back to an earlier post: It's fine to delete power lines in photoshop - they might simply not represent the feeling I had when looking at this scenery and (as a lot of contributers have said) there are many ways to influence the representation of ones impressions.
Edit on further thought: There are situations, when 'true reality' is an issue: 'true color' for serial printing and worse yet, 'true color' for cataloge work in professional photography - this time related to 'taking' the image, 'working' with it and printing. I have dealt with both issues in my profession. This is an art, not a problem - as I have been told by veteran master printers doing reproduction and pre-press. I'm just so clad, that I do not have to deal with that with my personal work. I just like the result or I don't and it's my choice.  
A.Weil
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Ray
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« Reply #27 on: March 11, 2003, 09:21:54 PM »
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Dansroka,
I understand what you're saying and I hope you'll forgive me if I appear to be trying to invalidate the artistic process as it applies to photography. Part of the problem as I see it, is that the camera really is an extraordinarily good and accurate recording device. Its limitations and distortions can be viewed as differences to the way the eye processes information, but valid in their own right. What we normally see is not necessarily 'reality' but a highly selective perspective that's shaped and defined not only by the properties and design of our eyes (the elecromagnetic spectrum is huge and we see just a very small portion of it) but by our conciousness which can include or exclude parts of a scene for a whole host of reasons.

The camera is not so easily tricked. In fact, I believe the camera really cannot lie. It can only be itself. I suppose that's self-evident in general terms. Inanimate objects cannot lie. Only people can lie.

So, in view of this remarkable quality of the camera to faithfully and dependably record whatever's in front of it, without bias or prejudice, without lapses of consciousness or selective failure to notice things, it's no wonder that some people feel a bit uneasy about tampering with this extraordinary fidelity.

The case for the camera.
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dbarthel
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« Reply #28 on: March 18, 2003, 06:26:58 PM »
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My digital post processing is limited to essentially what one would do in a wet environment. Adjusting contrast, brightness, saturation, croping, etc. I probably use 10% of what photoshop can do to an image. In fact, I wish there was photoshop-darkroom and photoshop-graphicsartist versions. Most of the stuff in photoshop is in my way.
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Roman
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« Reply #29 on: April 20, 2003, 12:40:10 AM »
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Matters not to me if its digital......film.....processed....left alone......

All that matters is....

a.) Did it look like I wanted it to look. when I'm finished.
b.) Is it a plesant image to view.
c.)Is it effective in saying to the viewer what I wanted to convey.

Art is art...whether its with a brush...spray can....digital camera.....film.....(I could go on...but you get the drift.)

Celebrate creativity in all areas
Use what works...(for you)
Dont use what dosnt...(for you)

Most of all....

Keep an open mind......and Have FUN!!

 :cool:  :p

Roman
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Rob
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« Reply #30 on: January 15, 2003, 11:10:11 AM »
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I may be wrong but I believe it was Ansel Adams who said something along the lines of:

"A good photograph is not taken. It is made"

How is choosing to make your image digitally any different than choosing to make it with film?

The fact is even for the most seasoned professional such as Ansel Adams if it wasnt for the ablity to manipulate images afterwards(whether its in the wet lab or the computer) the resulting images would pretty much blow.

Now take this hypothetical scenario and apply the following rules:

- All images film photographers take would be takern with standard film with no filters . When developing they would be given a standard exposure-  Such and such a time in the bath etc etc. No post processing, dodging, burning etc.

- All images taken with a digital camera will be displayed as is straight out of the camera

Now take the above rules and have the top professionals display their new portfolio with the above rules applied and I can guarantee you the majority of the images would blow chunks. They would look quite average and most of the images probably would not be striking in any way.

Now we can see what Ansel Adams meant when he says good photographs are made and not taken. Even Ansel himself realized post processing is neccesary to achieve the art. He was a master of the dark room. Without such processes as dodging and burning and experimentation many of his images such as the famous Moonrise image would quite frankly never have made it.

I submit that if Ansel Adams were around today he too would be working with Photoshop and using all the digital tools that are available. I know this because Ansel by his own admission knew good images are made and they are not taken.
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Erik M
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« Reply #31 on: January 15, 2003, 02:47:52 PM »
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Rob,

I think you're overreacting. Not everyone uses Velvia. Ektachrome 100S exists for a reason.

But seriously, most objections to manipulations come from compositional elements either being added or removed digitally without the viewer's knowledge. If someone wants to remove telephone lines that are running through the most beautiful valley in the world, then do so. But please tell me that you've done so. If you're creating a scene that does not exist in real life--good for you. Just please let me know. I don't think there is anything to be gained from blurring the lines between straight photography and photography mixed with graphic art. Both are wonderful. They simply need to be kept separate for the sake of evaluation. It will ultimately be up to the viewer to decide if he or she values a 'straight' shot more or less than one that has had compositional elements added or removed via digital techniques.
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James Pierce
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« Reply #32 on: January 15, 2003, 05:39:29 PM »
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I might say though - some post processing work has to be undertaken to make prints look the same as the trannys.  And ... I don't produce alot of work like this in a year.  I might make 30 images that I'm happy to sell as limited edition work.  I shoot alot of other stuff for stock, but that is a whole different game.
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Rob
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« Reply #33 on: January 16, 2003, 06:50:11 AM »
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James, I understand what you are saying.

I was just pointing out one of the myths of professional photography. A lot of laymen think every shot the professional takes is a masterpiece. The difference between a professional and layman(besides experience) is the pro takes lots and lots of photos and has a wide range of possible exposures to choose to make in the darkroom. The laymen typically takes one or two shots of a scene and turns in his images to a lab at WalMart who  does a standard development. The professional makes his photos to his liking.

I recall a recent conversation on this board where Michael Reichmann discussed how he took over 180 shots of birds in flight against a backdrop to get a couple keepers he was satisfied with. For the professional many shots are not planned down to minute detail. They simply happen to be one of the keepers out of the mutlitude of shots. The more you take the more your chances of success. There really is nothing magical going on that the layman is not doing. The profesional simply takes a lot more photos and has the experience and wisdom to manipulate and develop the promising images.
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Erik M
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« Reply #34 on: January 17, 2003, 12:34:57 PM »
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So, if I took a nice beach scene, and cloned in a Chincoteague pony into it (and did it just so, so that you couldn't tell they were photographed separately), would this be any better, worse, or even different?

There's nothing wrong with this, provided you let me (the buyer, collector, etc.) know that the pony was never on the beach and that this is a composite. I could then judge weather or not I valued a creation as much as a straight photo. Honesty: it's really the simple solution.
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marko
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« Reply #35 on: January 25, 2003, 06:25:51 AM »
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Please stop using the word professionals! What's that got to do with quality? That is just a way of making a living.
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BJL
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« Reply #36 on: March 10, 2003, 10:20:24 AM »
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Ray,

   a very nice summary. I was just briefly sceptical that a blended view of a high contrast scene "would be completely natural", but then realized that it probably can come close if presented well.

One example to consider is Michael R's blended image of sunset and bushes in his recent Big Sur collection. In the small image on my screen it seems unnatural (but way better than a fill-flash shot); I am seeing the whole scene at once and my reaction is that in reality my eyes would be adjusted to the sun, and so the bushes at the bottom of my field of view would be dimmer.

But if one were to make a suitably big print, and view it from close enough to reproduce the angular field of view of the original scene, then one's eyes would have to move between sky and bushes, and it might then reproduce what one would see by moving one's eyes around the original scene and so having them adjust the the brightness variation.

This is perhaps one perceptual reason for the advantage of presenting wide angle images like landscapes with big, high resolution prints.
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Dan Sroka
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« Reply #37 on: March 11, 2003, 12:08:10 PM »
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When you press the shutter, you can do no other than record what exists.

Yes, but in the act of capturing what exists, you are interpreting it, and changing it. What is captured is always an interpretation (intellectual, emotional, or mechanical).

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I'm not sure if you're saying that all your photos are essentially quite dull because they record only what exists and that in order to make them interesting you have to manipulate them in Photoshop and mold them according to a pre-conceived idea.

Yes, all of my photos are terrible dull.  That is not at all what I meant. I was speaking philosophically, that if the goal of photography was merely to capture a fragment of reality, I personally would find that a very dull objective. I love photography because I believe it is not that -- because everyone who takes a picture sees a different reality, captures it differently, expresses it differently. You give 5 people the same camera and point them at the same mountain, and you'll see 5 completely different "realities".  


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I should also mention that many poems consist of less than 20 words - Japanese haiku, for example

Exactly. Though the "equipment" of that poetic form, the poet is interpreting reality.


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I'm intrigued about your concept of emotional accuracy. It seems almost an oxymoron. The word 'accuracy' belongs in the technical domain, does it not? ....Your opinion of those qualities, and your emotional response to those qualities, may change over quite short periods of time, but the 'real' qualities of the photo (whatever they are) remain fixed. That's their attraction. Same with paintings.

Yes, it is an oxymoron, or you might think of it as a noble fool's quest. I mean creating art that is "accurate" to your intentions. Photos that try to evoke what you felt as you took the picture. It is nearly impossible to do, which is why so many of us artists and photographers can spend our entire lives on this quest. The impossibility of it makes it fun.

Yes, some qualities of images may remain fixed, but that context and interpretation will vary wildly. Part of the game of the artist is to play with (or ignore) these interpretations.

Dan
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Erik M
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« Reply #38 on: January 17, 2003, 02:21:08 PM »
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If you think no one cares then you should have no problem letting potential buyers know that you have created a photographic creation and not a straight photo. If you believe that the majority of gallery and art show buyers favor composite, imaginary landscapes over traditional 'straight' photos then promoting yourself as a landscape creator (and not a straight shooter) could only add to the value of your work.

Furthermore, I might add that if you find conventional landscape photography terribly boring you might want to become Wilderness Travel certified by the Sierra Club. That way you can grab your 7.5 minute USGS maps, put on a pack, bring your water filtration equipment, and go 'off trail' for a few weeks. I guarantee you you'll see rare, magical landscapes that need no alteration and have never graced the pages of any calendar.
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Jonathan Wienke
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« Reply #39 on: March 07, 2003, 02:32:26 AM »
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I have found that if I start with a poor image no amount editing can really save it. Conversley I have also found that with a great image to start with, anything more that basic color balance and contrast editing only degrade the end result.
You will get little argument from me on this point. Trying to make a crappy image be excellent by editing is kind of like putting lipstick on a pig.
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